To the Editors:
Jean-Paul Honegger’s column on the proposed Amtrak layover facility in Brunswick repeats the misinformation of the train authority building the project (NNEPRA).

1. Trains would not be “switched off” once in the facility, because large diesel engines take too long to warm up from cold starts. NNEPRA has thus far failed to provide required operating plans documenting exactly how the engines would be run.

2. The facility is not “essential to preserving Amtrak service to Brunswick.” NNEPRA offers no evidence to support this statement. The facility is something NNEPRA wants, not something it needs.

3. The claim that “ridership numbers aren’t low” is unsubstantiated. 
Most reporters never question NNEPRA’s own figures, which regulators have claimed are unreliable and inconsistent. Industry think tanks actually report reduced ridership from last year to this.

4. The facility will not benefit Brunswick’s economy. It will generate no new runs to Brunswick, for that requires new tracks, which NNEPRA has not proposed. The building will offer no new employment opportunities. It will not bring more consumers to town, and it will not bring in new tax dollars, since it operates at taxpayer expense.

Senator Angus King, Governor Paul LePage and a host of state legislators have all raised serious questions about this project.

So too has the state Department of Environmental Protection, which rejected two of NNEPRA’s attempts to secure stormwater management permits. See, NNEPRA failed to offer any plan for the management of wastewater proven to contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals, which threaten to pollute local drinking wells and ultimately Brunswick’s watersheds. Given its established record of “railroading” neighbors, NNEPRA’s “trust us” response to these concerns is of little solace.

NNEPRA misinforms the public, neglects local laws and ordinances, and evades required regulation. Journalists have a responsibility to investigate, rather than echo, its claims.
I am all for the growth of greener transportation networks, even at taxpayer expense. I am not for a process contemptuous of laws designed to protect residents and the environment from irresponsible development.

Patrick Rael
Though he is a professor of history at Bowdoin, Patrick Rael writes to the editors as a citizen of Brunswick.